It doesn't matter who or what we are, we are still just people': Strategies used by university students to negotiate difference

Leibowitz B. ; Rohleder P. ; Bozalek V. ; Carolissen R. ; Swartz L. (2007)


South Africa, after decades of apartheid, continues to be a highly segregated society. Higher education institutions need to prepare students for work in such a divided society. Recent work on intergroup contact has stressed the importance of taking into account people's interpretation and meanings about contact in particular contexts, and the need for contact to involve dialogue about sociohistorical situations. This article reports on a collaborative project involving fourth-year psychology and social work students from two universities. The project facilitated the interaction of students from diverse racialised and classed backgrounds. A combination of a thematic and discourse analysis of their online interaction identified strategies students used when negotiating and interacting with one another on issues of difference, The analysis identified ways of referring to difference, strategies for negotiating difference, and ways of managing the conversations about difference. These indicate differing levels of engagement, Dialogue designed to educate students about difference requires interventions that make students aware of these strategies and their implications. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.

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